Bangkok is quite a safe city although touts and pickpockets are rife and it pays to remain alert at all times. Avoiding the midday heat and keeping hydrated with bottled water is a must, while doing drugs in Thailand is not advised as penalties are extremely harsh.
As with any Asian clime, there are many dos and don'ts to keep in mind in Bangkok. Always dress appropriately when visiting temples, which means no serious amounts of flesh showing (keeping the knees and shoulders covered), and removing shoes.
Public displays of affection are frowned upon, as is shouting and showing anger, while women should never touch a monk. Also, be sure not to point with your feet or pick your teeth with your fingers in public. Thais greet with a traditional wai, which is the palms together in a prayer like format and head slightly bowed.
Thailand uses the baht, which is split into 100 satang and comes in 1,000, 500, 100, 50, and 20 baht notes. Money is best exchanged at the airport as it has better rates, while banks will also change monies. Products and services are relatively expensive in Bangkok compared with the Thai national average, yet perhaps under half of Western countries for hotels and eating out.
ATMs are everywhere and the bulk of them accept major foreign debit and credit cards. Be aware that there is a standard charge when drawing on a foreign account at an ATM. Credit cards are accepted at the big stores, restaurants and hotels.
November through March is the coolest, driest time in Bangkok, yet also happens to be the busiest when hotels must be booked in advance. While March through May is not rainy season, it can become unbearably hot and humid, particularly so in April. June through October is the rainy season, with the heaviest rains generally appearing in September during the afternoon.
It is not as tough to get around Bangkok using public transport as it once was. While it's true that it is a huge, noisy and congested city, there is now a subway and elevated railway that take in the tourist areas. They are known as the Bangkok Metro (MRT) and the Bangkok Skytrain (BTS) respectively and both are modern, cheap and fully air-conditioned.
Buses, both air-conditioned and fan-only, offer the cheapest form of travel and cover virtually every destination, although tourists are not advised to use them. Taxis are the most convenient form of transport outside of rush hours and they are metered and cheap. The so-called noisy tuk-tuk (three-wheelers) is a bit of a novelty and nippy, but is open to traffic and quite smelly. The river and canals can be seen by charter boat or ferry.
Metered taxis, limousines and express buses run to the city from the Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), accessible at the first floor exit and the nearby transport center. Sadly, however, most taxis will refuse the meter and quote a ridiculous price. Simply move to the next one or try and snag a taxi upstairs outside Departures. The Skytrain will also soon access the airport.
Population: 11 million
Spoken languages: Thai, English in tourist areas
Electrical: 220 to 240 Volts, 50 Hertz
Phone/calling code: +62 2